Hack, Cheat, Or Think?


I read and write. While this is generally a good thing ( with the possible exception of some letters I have posted when ticked-off…), it does mean that I tend to take at face value what other people have written. And sometimes it is either confusing or annoying.

As a first example, take simple computer program book on my shelf; ” How To Cheat In Photoshop Elements 10 “. It is a very useful book as it shows how the simpler of the Adobe image-editing programs can be used to produce some quite complex pictures. Focal press is to be congratulated for publishing it.

But ” Cheat ” in the title? No matter who uses the English language, they never see the word ” cheat ” as a good thing. Cheaters are universally excoriated in school systems and military organisations for good reason; they degrade and endanger the efforts of others. They are said to never prosper, though this has a certain righteous fantasy about it. There have been a number of people in history who have prospered by cheating and we can only hope for after-worldly punishment to sort things out. Bad choice of word.

For the second example, I can cite a Facebook posting today that referred to advice on dietary matters as a ” life hack “. Life may be served by a good diet but generally the word ” hack ” denotes a bad thing. Hackers are said to be damaging our computer systems – hack writers are looked down upon and mere drudges. I know – see the heading image. No one playing ice hockey wants the be hacked or be accused of it.

In both these cases we might use better words. Both situations deal with thinking, why not substitute ” think ” for ” cheat ” and ” idea ” for ” hack “. More dignified and a better form of English.

And the readers will feel better as they start to think for themselves.


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